Each year, colleges and universities from all over the nation send their men’s basketball teams to the “Last Frontier State” to the Great Alaska Shootout Basketball Tourney. The competition heats up the cold winter days and nights, as teams meet head on to battle for buckets. Colleges and universities get the opportunity to play against their top rivals and powerhouses of the game. These games draw in record crowds each year, as any basketball fan should not miss the chance to attend this fast paced pre season classic.
The main question on any sports fan’s mind is, why Alaska? The reason is simple, former University of Alaska Anchorage head coach, Bob Rachal found a loophole in the NCAA rules determining pre season play. In an effort to draw more attention to the state, the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the Seawolves athletic program, Rachal became the mastermind of what began as the Sea Wolf Classic. The NCAA rules stated any games played outside the contagious 48 states did not count towards a program’s pre determined allotment. For this reason, participants of the Great Alaska Shootout Basketball Tourney can get an early gauge of their teams prowess against national talent.
The first Sea Wolf Classic was held in 1978 for the ’78-’79 basketball season and saw the Wolfpack of North Carolina State University crush the University of Louisville’s Cardinals. The tournament ended in 1978, leaving many wondering if it would become an annual event. Much to everyone’s relief, the Sea Wolf Classic became a Thanksgiving tradition in 1979, but under a new name.
Broadcaster Billy Packer is credited with changing the name from the Sea Wolf Classic to the Great Alaska Shootout Basketball Tourney back in 1979. In this stunning tournament, the title game came down to the University of Kentucky Wildcats and the Iona College Gaels. The Wildcats proved too powerful for the tiny New York school, and emerged victorious as the second champion of this fantastic new basketball challenge.
A list of past champions reads like a who’s who of College basketball, including NC State, Louisville, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and UCLA to name a few.
The attendance may have been meager in the early days, but soon the action caught on, and now college basketball fans of all ages flock to the state for the Thanksgiving weekend Great Alaska Shootout Basketball Tourney. What better way to celebrate our national day of thanks than by cheering on teams from all across the country? Many hotels, cruises, and lodges have special packages designed with the college basketball fan in mind.
If you find you cannot wait until December to enjoy hot hoops action, head to Anchorage and watch the action melt away the snow! Plan a trip for the family and bring budding sports fans to experience the thrilling display of skill and sportsmanship, or make it a raucous occasion for celebration with your best hoops loving buds. Whoever you bring, just make sure you bring yourself to this annual college basketball showdown!